tv Al Jazeera Investigates Inside Kenyas Death Squads Al Jazeera November 21, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
from military, the whole range of instruments the u.s. government brought to bare. we need to do the same thing now, and paris was the i.s.i.s. version of 9/11. we need to deal with this. >> that is the show for tonight from istanbul, i'm ali velshi. jazeera. >> the policemen who kill. for the first time, members of kenya's death squads speak publicly about assassinating suspects.
>> kenya's counter terrorism strategy is edging the country into conflict, creating a generation of angry and alienated muslims. >> kenyans shot dead in cold blood. >> they're becoming a threat to global security. so do the elimination. >> al jazeera has been given confidential documents revealing the intelligence that drives this extra judicial killing program. intelligence that may have been supplied by western security agencies. >> aljazeera investigates whether global powers are conducting a proxy war in africa using a rulebook from israel. >> a part of that prevention
sometimes is to kill the terrorist. before the trial. >> president kenyatta - has already faced charges of crimes against humanity at the international criminal court he could soon find himself in the dock again. this time for ordering the killing of muslim clerics. >> for years kenya has been rife with allegations of a secret vernment-run counter terrorism program. one that targets suspected
muslim "radicals". al jazeera's investigative unit has obtained exclusive access to the policemen who operate as government-sanctioned hit men. fearing that speaking to us could put their lives at risk, we agreed to conceal their identity. we verified each officer's roll within kenya's security apparatus. they belong to different units but work together to carry out assassinations. the first officer is a member of the anti-terrorism police unit or the atpu. >> we will call him "the cop". next an officer from a commando unit called recce company, part of the police's general service
unit - or gsu. >> he is "the commando". the death squad also includes an officer from the national security and intelligence service. >> do you believe that some of the intelligence that you and your offices may have gathered on high-profile people has led to them being eliminated? >> the nsis plays a central role in planning anti-terror operations. we call him the "the spy". finally there's a member of the "radiation unit" a rapid
reaction team within the kenyan police. >> he is called "the gunman". >> what kind of specialist activities does the radiation unit do? >> let's get started because you may end up in jail before we begin- [laughter] at some point they will send you to jail. >> no, now it's not jail. >> makaburi was the nickname of abubaker shariff ahmed - a charismatic muslim cleric from the kenyan port city of
mombasa. >> so we need to, you guys can sit out of eye line, cause makaburi can look at you sitting there. so need to move somewhere he can't see you. >> i met him in november 2013. >> so i'm supposed to look at you? >> yeah. >> or look at him? >> no, no look at me. >> makaburi told me that muslims in kenya faced widespread government oppression. >> what do you think the outcome of that kind of oppression will be? >> the migration of young men going to jihad, because they see it as a lack of law on their side... they cannot get justice, they get oppressed, they get killed, their sheikhs get killed. they cannot go to the government. it is the government, which is doing it. >> makaburi has appeared in court on numerous occasions, charged under kenya's 'terrorism' laws. but he was never convicted. >> how am i a terrorist? who have i terrorized? that's why i'm in court now for
three years and nothing has been proved against me. i'm the one who is being terrorized. my life is the one which is in danger. any sheikh who talks about the islamic religion as a war, meaning including jihad, is killed in kenya. >> these confidential reports obtained exclusively by al jazeera, claim to show that makaburi had extensive links to the somali militant group al shabaab and that he was planning and financing bombings in kenya. but despite these alleged links, the authorities failed to produce enough evidence to convict him in court. >> makaburi was placed under surveillance.
>> and then you act? [rapid gun fire] >> makaburi was shot as he left the courtroom. he became the third prominent muslim cleric murdered in kenya in the last 2 years. >> every other time these sheikhs are coming up and saying we feel our life is threatened, then the next day, "poof" they're not there and everything goes quiet. >> all were gunned down in front of witnesses and all cases remain unsolved. when i met makaburi six months before his death he believed he already knew his fate - and who would pull the trigger. >> the recce squad, which is a gsu squad in nairobi. those are the guys who are doing these killings all over kenya.
and they have been given immunity from persecution. so what they're doing is, they're cleansing. whoever is a potential threat should be killed. >> human rights groups have highlighted a further 18 suspected islamic radicals gunned down by the police, over the past two years. >> when someone is killed, at least show that you are concerned, that you're carrying out investigations. show us that you are able to track some of the killers. you can't have people being shot dead every week and then the government does nothing. >> the fact that these individuals, so high profile, have been assassinated in broad daylight sometimes, and then followed up with basically no investigation raises serious
>> this is al jazeera america live from new york. >> at 7:00 - "news roundup". tony harris gives you a fast-paced recap of the day's events. >> this is the first line of defense. >> we have an exclusive story tonight. >> then at 8:00 - john seigenthaler brings you the top stories from across america. >> the question is, will these dams hold? >> and at 9:00 - >> i'm ali velshi, on target tonight... >> ali velshi on target. digging deeper into the issues that matter. >> i'm trying to get a sense for what iranians are feeling. >> the kenyan authorities clampdown on suspected islamic militants is a reaction to events in nearby somalia. in 2006 - ethiopia - assisted by the united states - invaded. overthrowing somalia's islamic
government. five years later, kenya became directly embroiled in the conflict, sending in several thousand soldiers. kenya invaded somalia in order to crush the increasingly powerful islamist movement, al shabaab. >> they went into that war thinking they would sweep shabaab into the sea. instead what they've done is opened the door for al shabaab to enter kenya. they now have a domestic insurgency and recent events show that shabaab has learned very quickly how to exploit the many local political conflicts that kenya contains. that makes shabaab the most dangerous thing the kenyan state has ever faced. >> since the invasion of somalia, there have been multiple attacks by al shabaab
inside kenya. >> there is no denying how serious the threat is here in kenya, we've just been told that one of the main police stations in nairobi has been hit by an ied. >> we arrived to chaotic scenes, a grenade detonated by the bomb squad sent people running for cover. the car bomb had killed 4 people, including two police officers. muslims have been in east africa for centuries and now make up at least 10% of kenya's population.
this is the masjid musa mosque in mombasa. the government claims the sermons here are encouraging violence against the kenyan state. >> some worshippers feel the government's actions are drawing them into this increasingly violent insurgency. >> in february 2014 the mosque was raided by the police. by the time the operation was over, eight people had died. over 120 worshipers were arrested. some have never been seen again.
it was here that sheikh aboud rogo, one of the most controversial imams in east africa - delivered his sermons. he taught that muslims have a duty to help restore islamic rule in somalia. >> in 2012 aboud rogo was placed on the united nations sanctions list for providing 'support to al-shabaab'. the accusation surprised rogo's family who run a chicken farm outside mombasa.
>> one morning in august 2012 - seven months after walking free from court - aboud rogo was driving his wife to hospital. >> the vehicle that the sheikh was in was isolated from the rest. [gunshots] >> all the shots that were fired were on target. it's only one that went off target and this hit the wife on the leg, but the rest were on target.
>> president uhuru kenyatta and other members of the national security council have categorically denied the existence of an extra-judicial killing program. president kenyatta has also faced questions at the international criminal court - accused of involvement in the deaths of hundreds of political rivals. the case was dropped because the kenyan government refused to hand over vital evidence. he and other senior kenyan ministers refused to answer our questions. instead we put the allegations directly to the kenyan police. >> to my knowledge, i don't think that there is any program in the national police service which deals with elimination. >> what is your response when people say that the government are behind those killings? >> these are issues, which are under investigations. >> can you at least deny that it
was the kenyan government's involvement? >> no, i can't comment on that because, at my level, there are things which i cannot come out and speak because i don't speak on behalf of everybody. i speak on behalf of the national police service. >> these accusations are against the police. why can't you comment or at least deny that? >> suffices to be left at that so that we don't go there. >> why? >> that is i think is more on me than on the institution that i speak for. >> were you on any on the operations to kill any of those high profile imams in mombasa? >> when the authorities say to me that they played no part in the killings of high profile imams, are they lying? >> we've spoken to officers
though who say that their units were involved in the elimination of those imams. >> well, i won't comment. respectfully, let me not comment on that. >> so the position of the kenyan government to serious accusations of illegality, extrajudicial killings is no comment. is that what you're saying? >> no, i'm not saying that. >> what is the response of the kenyan government then? >> well well well, as i said earlier, allow me not to go into that. >> with the greatest respect, i can't allow you not to go into that because that is your job. i spoke to a serving gsu officer from the radiation unit. "makaburi was eliminated. we were ordered by the government". >> i can't -- >> i have another atpu officer. makaburi killed by the police. it was planned in nairobi by high ranking officials. can you at least deny that that's true. >> no, i cannot deny or i cannot agree to that. >> coming up, the complicity of the western governments that train and support the death squads. their failure to act is allowing
state violence to spread through kenyan life. >> billions spent training afghan forces. >> there was a bang... i said, "get down". >> after 15 civilian deaths. >> according to the sources that we spoke to... the civilians that weren't killed in crossfire... >> "faultlines". >> what do we want? >> al jazeera america's hard-hitting... >> today the will be arrested. >> ground-breaking... >> they're firing canisters of gas at us. >> emmy award-winning, investigative series.
>> a year? >> extrajudicial killings have been happening at an alarming rate. people have now considered them as just any other act. they've become so normal, or so to speak you know, such that the government does not feel in any way that this is something we need to address. we know for a fact because we see those killings happening within our communities almost on a daily basis. >> this sense of impunity means that extrajudicial killings are not limited to suspected islamic militants. the mountain town of nyeri is an hours' drive from the capital nairobi. in april 2014, five young people were watching football in a local bar.
>> they were taken from a club. my research has indicated that they were actually were taken to a police station and then not booked in, taken to a forest and shot dead. >> the police had a great liking of the forests. they would often take people out there in order to shoot them. >> philip alston is the author of a united nations report on extra judicial killings in kenya. it followed hundreds of deaths after elections in 2007. his investigation delivered a damning inditment of the kenyan police. >> they were not what one might call discriminating. a lot of the killings were simply casual, accidental as it were. someone that you arrest, someone who won't pay a bribe, someone who gets in the way of a cop
who's running a bar or something like that. just dispose of the people. >> he found that the police would frequently respond with unlawful force. >> the conclusion i reached was that killing was widespread, that it was basically part of the way in which the police force operated, that it wasn't just tolerated by the senior police but directed by them. >> the un investigation did little to change the culture of the police in kenya. and that same force now has a role in kenya's war with al shabaab. >> the current war that kenya is involved in gives all of the security agencies the blanket cover that they are doing this because of that war. now that blanket cover excuses any explanation at all and it is a very dangerous thing for
ordinary citizens. very dangerous indeed. >> a fortnight after the killing of 5 young people in nyeri, security sources claimed in the media that the victims had links to the somali militant group, al shabaab. >> that is a scapegoat, to those who did the action. they are trying to escape by saying that they went to somalia and that, such things. >> it appears any victim of police abuse can be labeled a terrorist, even the ones shot by accident.
>> at 9:30 - "america tonight" - top investigative reporting, uncovering new perspectives. >> everything that's happening here is illegal. >> then at 10:00 - it's "reports from around the world". >> let's take a closer look. >> antonio mora gives you a global view. >> this is a human rights crisis. >> and at 11:00 - "news wrap-up". clear... concise... complete. >> police killings are rarely independently investigated in kenya. we left nairobi to meet a woman, who is in hiding after calling for an inquiry into the killing of her husband by the police.
salim nero had been armed and that he and another suspect had been killed during a shoot-out. >> when they say they were killed in self-defense - it's not true? >> i would say that's standard operating procedure. the so-called shootout scenario where you set it up to make it look as though someone who you have executed was involved in a shootout with the police. and in order to do that, it's better to have a weapon that
you've confiscated from somewhere else to leave beside the body. >> the police will tell them that was a suspected terrorist. we found one gun and two rounds of ammunition. and that's it. you're already labeled as a suspected terrorist. and unfortunately, this is what the fight against terrorism is using now to further violate rights with impunity. >> in 1998 224 people were killed after a bomb destroyed the us embassy in kenya, a simultaneous attack on the us facility in tanzania killed a further 10. for the first time the world heard the names al qaeda and osama bin laden. since then, there has been a close relationship between kenya and the west's global war on terror.
western countries have provided kenya with hundreds of millions of dollars in counter-terrorism training and equipment. since 2009, the us alone has provided over 125 million dollars. britain - the former colonial power - continues to aid the police, using a portion of its 30 million pounds overseas counterterrorism budget. >> we've seen them quite recently providing equipment. they have provided vehicles. we've seen them provided firearms, tactical firearms, and we've seen them even providing boats for their border patrol unit. >> the death squads we spoke to had all received specialist military training from british officers.
>> the link between the british intelligence service and their kenyan counterparts is at the core of this relationship. >> if we get any person in kenya that is a threat to the security of the uk, then we need to pass over this information to the mi5 so that mi5 can come in and actually utilize that intelligence. >> israel also has strong
intelligence links to kenya. we have been leaked confidential police documents, appearing to show israeli intelligence that highlights threats to their interests in kenya. information like this is allowing israel to exert growing influence over kenya's counter terrorism strategy. >> this secret document obtained by al jazeera reveals that kenya and israel have developed a close 'understanding' on intelligence matters. israel's foreign intelligence service mossad is allowed to run safe houses and its own operations in the country. and in return israeli agents have exposed the activities of foreign intelligence networks to the kenyans.
>> in terms of training the gsu long ago moved away from predominantly british training towards israeli training. the police have a sense i think that the israelis understand their problems better than the brits and other europeans do. in the sense that the israelis are themselves fighting an internal counter insurgency. they understand what might be needed in such a war and their attitude towards what you have to do is far more permissive and perhaps less rules bound than are some others. >> we have a lot in common because i think that both for israel and for kenya.
one of the main threats is from the radical islam and many from the radical islamic terror organizations that are active in this region. >> this classified mossad briefing was written after an assault by al shabaab militants on the westgate shopping mall in nairobi, which left 67 dead. it reveals concerns that israel's assistance to kenya's counter-terrorism units during the attack was leaked to the media. and it claims that al shabaab is planning further, more 'extreme' violence in kenya - including attacks on western and israeli targets. >> they teach you how to eliminate people? >> i think that the kenyans they have the authority and the right
to run their own affairs. so if they decide to run a targeted killing operation, i don't think that we will condemn them. >> a part of the prevention sometimes is to kill the terrorist before trial. this is a necessary option not only legitimate. >> we do not hide behind any walls and curtains. we use it in our fight against terror. it is a very effective tool. >> the israeli foreign office, however, told us: under no circumstance are "eliminations" part of any kind of training imparted by israeli experts.
the british foreign office said it is aware of the allegations of extra judicial killings in kenya, adding: we take such allegations extremely seriously and raise concerns with the kenyan authorities. >> do you think the british who train and fund the atpu and the gsu know that you guys are eliminating terrorist targets? >> how? >> are the british... made aware of the elimination programs as well?
>> donors who are involved in supporting and providing equipment are also apparently not overseeing these operations properly. because again and again and again, we are raising instances of serious abuses, abuses that would not be acceptable anywhere else. >> when people like makaburi is killed or aboud rogo, do the british ever come to your senior commanders and say stop, stop, stop?
>> there are many in the intelligence and security community, including among british senior staff who would argue that the frontline is where the rough stuff happens and maybe we just have to grin and bear it. the balance of security and foreign policy interests are such that kenya is still viewed as a necessary ally in this region and until that changes we are going to have to swallow this stuff for the foreseeable future. >> but could western governments
be held legally responsible for the actions of the men they trained? >> the first person to get rid of is the leader. >> we showed our interviews to the head of the international bar association. >> sometimes whether we go you eliminate or we spare this person. >> its clear based on these interviews that there's at least prima facie evidence to suggest that these third party countries are involved and therefore they all have responsibility to investigate. >> they are training the intelligence persons. >> members of the british government could even face charges at the international criminal court in the hague. >> i think it could be a criminal investigation because if there are individuals that are found to be not just training but are actually found to have been directing, supervising, targeting individuals that in turn would be targeted in a killing then there is a criminal
responsibility. >> we do share all this information. >> i don't want to be very specific, but the government did it. >> if they're arguing that perhaps they didn't know or have a reason to know that these crimes were being committed, they now know. >> after seeing our evidence he believes that western countries should reconsider their support of kenya's police force. >> we should stop providing any type of assistance or training to police units in kenya until there is a clear change, a paradigm shift if you will, in how the kenyan authorities deal with suspects and with individuals they consider to be dangerous to the state, and that does not include target killings.
>> in 2014 in response to the growing violence 2 major tourist companies suspended holidays to kenya. despite the continuing loss of life and economic impact, there appears to be no change in strategy. either by the kenyan government or the western countries that support them. >> i think we're not going to see an end of this. what will happen is we are going to see more radicalization of the youth because somebody will tell them, you see, rogo died a martyr, makaburi died a martyr fighting for religion so we are not going to see an end of this. >> the killings of clerics like makaburi and aboud rogo have failed to quell the insurgency.
>> do you actually believe that by eliminating these people, you're making this country safer? and the answer obviously is no. terrorists want exactly that; that kenyans are shot dead in cold blood. >> another generation could already be in the sights of the kenyan authorities. the killing of sheik aboud rogo, was one of the first carried out by the kenyan death squads, his son could be the next.